Today we have a unique writer with me.
Please welcome Vikram Dhawan, the author of Kashmir House to the interview.
Welcome to my virtual teté-a-teté
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Rakhi, it’s a privilege to be invited to your blog. Thanks for reviewing my book.
My parents belong to those millions of families who migrated from Pakistan during the partition in 1947. One may imagine the monumental chaos during the time as each member of my father’s extended family had their initials tattooed on their arms, in case they got separated during the journey or worse, for identifying a deceased family member.
The Partition resulted in an exodus of almost 20 Million souls and around 2 Million amongst them, women and children included, died horrific violent deaths. The British, either by design or oversight conjured the communal demon and allowed the radicals to go on the rampage. In my view, to understand India one has to acknowledge the repercussions of the Partition- most underrated historical event in history of modern India.
The families struggled to reconcile with the uprooting and took them decades to find their bearings. They grappled with uncertainties and took time to develop a sense of belonging. There is physical and psychological damage a refugee suffers, the latter is a lot more debilitating and the scars never quite heal. The scars may manifest as radicalisation, nomadic disposition and fatalism. I can relate to the Kashmir Crises and the plight of Kashmiri immigrants. I have seen the aftereffects of a bloody immigration in my parent’s extended families. While the majority of their siblings and cousins are extremely successful professionals and entrepreneurs, however streak of restlessness is hard to miss.
How could you get such a detailed account of the secret activities of our army, ISI and CIA. Even if the book is a fictional work, I could see a reality hidden somewhere.
I visited the state of Jammu & Kashmir, some years back. A land of barricades in the grip of desolation and isolation. The sad part is, like any other geopolitical crises, the festering humanitarian crises is overshadowed by the regional geopolitics. Like the Partition, the scars run deep and wide and vested interests keep the wounds fresh. I was compelled to dig deeper.
The story of Kashmir House is entwined in actual historical events. During my research for Kashmir House, I was fortunate enough to interact with journalists, soldiers, retired-spooks, leaders and last but not the least, lots of Kashmiris. Whilst I intended Kashmir House to read like a real story, however I sincerely hope and pray it remains a piece of fiction and a figment of my imagination only.
So, what have you written?
Kashmir House is my debut fictional work. All the other stuff I wrote were press quotes and articles on Stocks and Commodities; my unflattering day job of making the rich richer.
Where can we buy or see them?
Easiest way to find it is to google under my name.
What are you working on at the minute?
I am working on a thriller set in the Entertainment Industry. A non-linear prequel to Kashmir House.
When did you decide to become a writer?
When I was in school, I use to write short stories and poetry for my friends. During the economic crises of 2001, I worked for a trade magazine as the consulting editor. Years after leaving the trade magazine for greener pastures, I bumped into a lot of people from the industry who to my great surprise missed my column. Besides, there is enough inequality, injustice, discrimination and corruption in our society, no dearth of angst and inspiration here.
How was your publishing experience? Since the topic is highly sensitive, did you find it difficult to convince the publishers?
I had realistic expectations, as I had heard and read many horror stories about the extremely high rejection rate of manuscripts by every known publisher. The leading publishers in India get thousands of manuscripts each month, one may imagine their plight. I am extremely grateful to Leadstart Publishing for picking-up my book from that enormous heap.
How did you adapt the writing style?
I have used reportage and playwright style for Kashmir House. The humble intention was to generate “fly on the wall” feel for the reader. My experience in print media came in handy.
Are you planning to have a sequel for Kashmir House?
There shall be two more books, a non-linear prequel and sequel to Kashmir House, albeit set in different locations with unique storylines.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
All aspiring writers should assess their weakness and strengths. Accentuate the strengths and find someone to assuage the weaknesses. If you are good storyteller, though with limited language capabilities, hire a good editor or a language guide. If language is your strength, spin a yarn around your own or other’s experiences.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
I am reachable on Twitter and Facebook .